The weekend of June 12 through Monday the 14, hundreds of goats and sheep could be spotted grazing in the fields used for animals at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. The goats and sheep were hired out through Chasin Goat Grazing, a company based out of Sonoma County that offers grazing services for clearing vegetation in Northern California. The sheep and goats were brought to the shelter to mow the fields there. According to a message sent out to the community from the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, “the animals are natural weed eaters and will be gobbling up all the weeds and foxtails.”
The practice of renting out herds of goats for clearing vegetation has been a steadily growing business in recent years. It is an environmentally friendly option for land management that effectively clears vegetation without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or machinery that emits fossil fuels. In addition, rotational grazing can maintain and even improve soil fertility and health and, if managed properly, promote the growth of native plants. Grazing services have a particular benefit for businesses and residents of Sonoma County and other areas of California that are at high risk for wildfires. The mobility of goats and sheep means that they can efficiently reduce fire fuels and clear brush that poses a danger during fire season while leaving a low environmental footprint. However, it’s important that grazing goats and sheep are managed properly so that they don’t disturb the ecosystem or compete with native plants and animals in the area that they are clearing.
To avoid any issues like that, Chasin Goat Grazing, which provided the goats and sheep for the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter, offers the option of an on-site manager to oversee the animals and the project. The company also provides fencing, transportation and water for the herd.
As the goats and sheep snacked on weeds and grass at the animal shelter, community members were welcome to watch but were asked not to touch or pet the animals, as they were on the job and needed to focus on their work.